Ganges: bamboo boat in Bengal to curb river pollution

Ganges: bamboo boat in Bengal to curb river pollution

The jute boat on the Ganges 

Raising public awareness about river pollution and upholding the importance of eco-friendly materials like jute came together in a unique initiative by eight youths from West Bengal. They have undertaken a 213 km long perilous voyage on the Ganges in a boat made from only from jute and bamboo. The nine-day long voyage which started on December 7 from Haldea in East Medinipur district concluded on the early hours of Saturday in the Howrah city of Bengal.

Throughout the voyage, the eight youths encountered several life-threatening dangers and survived by sheer courage and presence of mind. Only a day after the voyage started, the 39 feet long and six feet high boat almost collided with a ship near Nayachar island on the Ganges.

It was about 10.50 am. Suddenly one of us spotted a large cargo ship barreling towards us. At the last moment, we managed to draw the attention of the ship’s crew and they slightly turned the ship avoiding the collision,” Puspen Samanta, the leader of the voyage told DH.

He also said that the ship was heading towards their fragile boat almost at 7 nautical miles (12.96 km) per hour and would have broken the boat in half if the collision took place. “It could have very well been our last voyage,” said Samanta. Apart from Samanta, Ashim Mondal, Biswajit Mondal, Arshad Ali Mondal, Sk. Hasim Abdul Halim, Momin Ali Mondal, Amir Hossain Jamadar, Bishal Goyalaalso took part in the voyage.

Within days of the incident, they encountered another mishap when strong currents almost dragged the boat into the sea. “At that time the boat was anchored for some repairing. Suddenly the current became so strong that it ripped off the anchor from the riverbed and started dragging us towards the sea. Somehow we managed to pull it back on course,” said Samanta. The mishap delayed their voyage by an entire day.

As to what prompted them to undertake the such a risky voyage Samanta said that on the one hand the Ganges was getting more polluted day by day and on the other production of eco-friendly materials like jute was getting hampered as jute mills were shutting down.

The voyage which cost about Rs.77,000 was sponsored by Ashim Mondal, an adventure sports trainer who also runs an NGO.